I see that the Church of England has now formally submitted its response to the UK Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage. They’re against it. If I were a Christian, like Giles Fraser, then, like him, I would be both ashamed and angry at the Church’s stance. But I’m not a Christian, so I’m simply disgusted and appalled at their continuing bigotry, and not in the least little bit surprised.
The summary of the C of E’s 13-page submission makes interesting reading. They’re against it because:
Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.
Marriage, as they very well know, has taken on many forms in human institutions throughout history. There is nothing “intrinsic” about it. And if we’re talking about human institutions here, then your God can damn well keep his nose out of my marriage, thank you very much.
Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.
I totally agree with the first part of this statement, marriage does benefit society in many ways, including promoting mutuality and fidelity. However, after stating this, the C of E wants to erect “keep-out” signs to prevent this being available to same-sex couples. How very charitable of them. And as for “an underlying biological complementarity” it’s certainly easier if a married couple already possess the right bits, but if they don’t, it still doesn’t rule out the possibility of procreation and raising children in a loving family.
We have supported various legal changes in recent years to remove unjustified discrimination and create greater legal rights for same sex couples and we welcome that fact that previous legal and material inequities between heterosexual and same-sex partnerships have now been satisfactorily addressed. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships. We also believe that imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise.
To claim that the CofE has “supported various legal changes in recent years to remove unjustified discrimination and create greater legal rights for same sex couples” is a downright lie. As Giles Fraser writes:
In the main House of Lords debate in June 2004 the majority spoke against it and voted six to one in favour of a wrecking amendment. The leadership of the C of E will do anything to keep gay people out of the church. It uses the sickly language of welcome but won’t let gay priests (even celibate ones) become bishops and is prepared to cut the Church of England off from the Episcopal church in the US because they do. At every turn, the Church of England treats gay people as an unwanted headache.
As I say, I am not surprised that the C of E objects to the proposals, they’ve cherry-picked the bits of scriptures to form the basis of their objections. The bible also condones slavery and the stoning of adulterers, but somehow society (at least in the West) has managed to move on from that. But what I do object to is their insistence that their beliefs should apply to the rest of us:
In common with almost all other Churches, the Church of England holds, as a matter of doctrine and derived from the teaching of Christ himself, that marriage in general – and not just the marriage of Christians – is, in its nature, a lifelong union of one man with one woman.
– from page 2 of the submission, my emphasis in bold. As I said above, their god can keep his nose out of my marriage.
Then there’s the usual cry of “allowing same-sex marriages will dilute traditional marriage”. Section 13, page 4, of their submission (bold in the original):
We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.
You know, it’s ironic. Here in The Netherlands, civil partnership was introduced for same-sex couples back in 1998, and then in 2001 full civil marriage for same-sex couples became available. There’s been no “dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone” at all. There are still church weddings for those who believe, but importantly, every couple first goes through a secular civil marriage ceremony, performed by a civil servant authorised to conduct weddings. This has long been the case – certainly before same-sex marriage became available. And there have been no challenges to the European Court of Human Rights to force Dutch Churches to marry same-sex couples, as the C of E apparently fears will happen in the UK.
The news of the C of E’s submission has appeared on the 12th June 2012. By coincidence, this is what we consider as our 14th Wedding Anniversary. Martin and I had a civil partnership ceremony on the 12th June 1998. In 2003, we had this upgraded to a full civil marriage. The C of E’s continuing scaremongering on this issue of same-sex marriage is just another example of how, to quote Christopher Hitchens, religion poisons everything.